Letters of Junius/Letter XXIV
14. September, 1769.
HAVING accidentally seen a republication of your letters, wherein you have been pleased to assert, that I had sold the companions of my success, I am again obliged to declare the said assertion to be a most infamous and malicious falsehood; and I again call upon you to stand forth, avow yourself, and prove the charge. If you can make it out to the satisfaction of any one man in the kingdom, I will be content to be thought the worst man in it; if you do not, what must the nation think of you? Party has nothing to do in this affair: you have made a personal attack upon my honour, defamed me by a most vile calumny, which might possibly have sunk into oblivion, had not such uncommon pains been taken to renew and perpetuate this scandal, chiefly because it has been told in good language: for I give you full credit for your elegant diction, well-turned periods, and attic wit: but wit is oftentimes false, though though it may appear brilliant; which is exactly the case of your whole performance. But, Sir, I am obliged, in the most serious manner, to accuse you of being guilty of falsities. You have said the thing that is not. To support your story, you have recourse to the following irresistible argument: "You sold the companions of your victory, because, when the 16th regiment was given to you, you was silent". The conclusion is inevitable. I believe that such deep and acute reasoning could only come from such an extraordinary writer as Junius. But, unfortunately for you, the premises, as well as the conclusion are absolutely false. Many applications have been made to the ministry on the subject of the Manilla ransom since the time of my being colonel of that regiment. As I have for some years quitted London, I was obliged to have recourse to the Honourable Colonel Monson, and Sir Samuel Cornish to negotiate for me; in the last autumn, I personally delivered a memorial to the Earl of Shelburne at his seat in Wiltshire. As you have told us of your importance, that you are a person of rank and fortune, and above a common bribe, you may, in all probability, be not unknown to his lordship, who can satisfy you of the truth of what I say. But I shall now take the liberty, Sir, to seize your battery, and turn it against yourself. If your puerile and tinsel logic could carry the least weight or conviction with it, how must you stand affected by the inevitable conclusion, as you are pleased to term it? According to Junius, Silence is Guilt. In many of the public papers, you have been called, in the most direct and offensive terms, a liar, and a coward. When did you reply to these foul accusations? You have been quite silent, quite chop-fallen: therefore, because you was silent, the nation has a right to pronounce you to be both a liar and a coward, from your own argument: but, Sir, I will give you fair play; will afford you an opportunity to wipe off the first appellation; by desiring the proofs of your charge against me. Produce them! To wipe off the last, produce yourself. People cannot bear any longer your Lion's skin, and the despicable imposture of the old Roman name which you have affected. For the future assume the name of some modern bravo and dark assassin: let your appellation have some affinity to your practice. But if I must perish, Junius, let me perish in the face of day: be for once a generous and open enemy. I allow that gothic appeals to cold iron, are no better proofs of a man's honesty and veracity, than hot iron and burning plough-shares are of female chastity: but a soldier's honour is as delicate as a woman's; it must not be suspected; you have dared to throw more than a suspicion upon mine: you cannot but know the consequences, which even the meekness of Christianity would pardon me for, after the injury you have done me.
- Was Brutus an ancient bravo and dark assassin; or does Sir W. D. think it criminal to stab a tyrant to the heart?